Government has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Sustainable Development Goals Centre for Africa (SDGCA) to strengthen collaboration in the implementation of SDGs.
Ministry of National Development Planning Permanent Secretary in charge of Development Cooperation, Monitoring and Evaluation, Trevor Kaunda said through MoU the country will be strategically positioned to quicken the achievement of the goals.
“It is the expectation of the Ministry that through this Memorandum of Understanding, the country will place itself on vantage ground to accelerate the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals, and thus ultimately, improve wellbeing for its citizens,” he said.
Mr Kaunda was speaking during a workshop on the SDGs monitoring and reporting system aimed at showcasing the progress made in the attainment of goals at country level.
And Mr Kaunda noted that the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is under threat owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This is on account of the COVID-19 pandemic which has affected not only the health sector, but also the abilities of countries, including Zambia, to finance development. In the case of Zambia, following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, preliminary estimates indicate that the economy contracted by 3.0 percent.
“The implications of which have been seen and felt through increased cost of living and unemployment levels, as well as a higher government deficit, among others, thus fundamentally threatening the improvements in the wellbeing attained so far,” he said.
Mr Kaunda however acknowledged that the country has successfully achieved several SDGs through the implementation of the Seventh National Development Plan.
“These achievements include improvements in life expectancy to 63.04 years in 2019 from 53.3 years in 2016, literacy rates to 80 percent from 67.5 percent during the same period, and reduction in under-five mortality from 75 per thousand live births in 2016 to 61 per thousand live births in 2019. In the interest of safeguarding the well-being of its citizens, the government is implementing measures, particularly, through the COVID-19 national multi-sectoral contingency and response plan as well as the economic recovery programme,” he said.
And speaking at the same event, Sustainable Development Goals Center for Africa (SDGCA), Acting Director General, and Caroline Makasa said the continent is lagging behind regarding the accomplishment of the SDGs.
“It is now over five years since the adoption of the SDGs, yet we are way off target on most of the SDG goals. We are faced with limited evidence-based data for better planning and timely decision making. In Africa only 2 in 5 SDG indicators have the required data,” Ms Makasa said.
She bemoaned outdated development data for important indicators such as poverty and health.
“The majority of African countries do not possess updated development data crucial indicators such as poverty, health, nutrition, education, and infrastructure. As a result, we rely mostly on internationally generated data some of which has proven insufficient to provide the necessary evidence in tracking and reporting progress on SDGs,” she noted.
She disclosed that as a measure to avert the challenge her institution has developed a Monitoring and Reporting System to monitor the progress of achieving SDGs and regional commitments at country level.